There are some things in life that are never that bad — pizza for example. Even low-quality pizza is edible if you’re hungry. Conversely, there are other items that lose all appeal if not done well.

Artificial rock falls squarely in the second category.

When designed properly, artificial rock is almost indistinguishable from nature. It has a feeling of timelessness and weight that I would have thought impossible for humans to create. Unfortunately, such installations are the exception rather than the rule.

All too often, I’ve seen a beautiful pool with a strange, lumpy mound rising up from the ground next to it. Sometimes there’s water spilling down the side and, like the mass itself, the water appears to be coming from nowhere. Many of these installations reflect a great deal of time and effort on the part of the builder, and it’s sad that the rockwork isn’t up to the level of the rest of the project.

That’s why Pool & Spa News has devoted a large segment of this issue to the art and science of creating artificial rock that appears natural. It’s actually part two of a series, and this section provides tips on how to design realistic formations and work with special features, cracking and coloration.

In many instances, artificial rock is constructed by a subcontractor, but, for the pool builders overseeing their work, it’s imperative they understand which methods should be used, and how to delineate good work from bad.

Originally, we planned to place all of this content into a single issue of Pool & Spa News, but once we read over the material, it was apparent that the package would be most effective as a series. It’s our hope that this information will inspire you to create rock installations that rival the handiwork of Mother Nature herself.